Every time we work on a contract, we do a survey of what people would like to see in the contract. In the last survey in 2020 we only had 51 members who responded, and it was obvious that most were supervisors. Since that survey, I have received about 40 more emails regarding the writers’ “wish list” for the contract. Overwhelmingly, pay was on the top of the list for items in the contract. Second was more time off.
We are only in our second meeting over the contract and are bound by a confidentiality agreement. So discussing issues is prohibited. But I wanted everyone to know how the process works as many do not understand the intricacies of Meet and Confer.
Being in a right-to-work state, it is a process that seems to work better than collective bargaining. In northern states, collective bargaining works because of the binding arbitration which is not allowed in Texas, which is why the Firefighters are having such a hard time. In the meet-and-confer process it is important that it be integrated to the point that it is almost impossible for the city to back out of the deal. We are currently in a perpetual evergreen portion of the contract until we work out another one. At this point, neither side can end our last contract until we have a new one in place.
Speed is important when negotiating a contract. Slow and steady is best while working through the process and the details of any contract. But once an agreement is made, it is important to move as quickly as possible. We only need to look as far as Austin to see how quick an agreement can unravel with the wrong outside influence.
Campaign Zero walked into Austin City Hall and killed a contract that had already been ratified by the Austin Police Association and the city within one week. So once a tentative deal is reached, we will be moving very quickly to get it ratified and before City Council.
Your responsibility in this process is an important one.
First, I suggest that everyone read the contract that we currently have in place. The contract is an easy read and can be completed in a matter of a few hours. The more you know about the current contract, the easier it will be to understand the new one.
Second, once it us ready and released, read the proposed contract and vote. Remember, you will be voting on your future and we believe it is very important to have overwhelming numbers when we take a ratified contract to City Council.
We may have a contract before the end of the year, but more than likely we will go into next year. Any pay raises would go into effect the first full pay period in July 2022, so a completed contracted by May is our goal.
I will keep you updated as best I can but urge you to make sure your email address is correct with the HPOU by calling 832-200-3410, or download the app as we send out information regularly.